WHEN THE Eagles selected offensive lineman Dennis Kelly in the fifth round of the 2012 draft, it's safe to say that neither he nor they anticipated he would end up starting 10 games as a rookie.

That's what happens, though, when three of your starters go down with season-ending injuries and the light switch continues to malfunction on your 2011 first-round pick.

It often wasn't pretty. Pro Football Focus, which grades offensive linemen, had just one Eagle with a lower overall pass- and run-blocking rating than Kelly. That was free-agent bust Demetress Bell. Kelly gave up five sacks and a team-high 29 hurries in his 10 starts - three at right guard and seven at right tackle.

But you know what they say about stuff that doesn't kill you making you stronger.

"You can't really replicate game experience," Kelly said. "Being on film. Being able to go up against that level of intensity, that level of talent.

"I'm definitely appreciative of it. Unfortunately, I got the chance because of bad circumstances. But it was a great opportunity for me."

Kelly was the 153rd player - and 29th offensive lineman - selected in the 2012 draft. Just nine of the 28 blockers taken ahead of him started more games than he did. And eight of those nine players were taken in either the first or second rounds.

He'd love to parlay his 10 rookie starts into a starting job this season. But alas, unless there is another outbreak of ruptured tendons, torn ACLs and foot fractures, his best 2013 hope likely will be to open the season as the team's top backup at the two tackle spots.

All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters is back after missing last season with an Achilles' injury. The right tackle spot is expected to be manned by Lane Johnson, who was the fourth overall pick in last month's draft. Todd Herremans, who had been the starting right tackle before suffering a season-ending foot injury in Week 9, has moved inside to right guard.

In the early OTAs, Kelly had been taking most of the reps at right tackle with the first unit. But that was mainly because the coaching staff wanted to bring Johnson along slowly.

With Peters a no-show for the last three voluntary OTAs, Kelly has been taking snaps at left tackle with the ones, and Johnson has been lining up at right tackle.

"Just being able to get the reps with the 'ones' is good," the Purdue product said. "Getting used to what they do.

"With me going both sides, you never know what's going to happen. I've just got to do what I can do to be on the field. When [Johnson] gets his shot, we'll see what happens, and we'll go from there."